For Those in the Know…
Sometimes it’s just knowing a few rather nice under the radar brands. Our Mayfair leather magnate opens up his (kidskin of course) petit livre noir…
Column by Trevor Pickett
In the periphery of my working environment, it seems we now live in a world of bloggers, influencers, advisors and consultants for all kinds of jobs that had a more basic job title. When I first started work in 1979 we were shop assistants, a director meant ‘directed the company’, not ‘customer care department’ or ‘personal shoppers.’ In those days, people shared information, and gave it with true authority from a base of knowledge, integrity and a transparent honesty. If there were back handers or commissions they were quite transparent to buyer and seller and acknowledged practice through the interior design world.
But the lines of engagement are and have never been clear. From the little I know, there is now no standard practice – it seems to the new semi self-styled advisors “the form” now has a new meaning; it seems you even select what you want in advance and then you write about it (and keep the item..). So much for impartiality or being surprised by what a brand’s got to offer… In the days of yore, you would have press days – Christmas in July was my favourite, and I was always amused at the press gift given. The press days were set; all the brands showed in a week; you gave a token item as a thank you for your visit. If a product caught the journalist’s eye or imagination you might find it in their gift guide. If they used an item on a shoot, you would find an appropriate present, but it was in acknowledgment and not so extravagant that bribery might be suggested.
I have always liked to share anything that I have found or discovered – I am not necessarily the font of all information, but here’s a bit of ‘spread the word’ on a couple of brands I just adore….
After 10 years concentrating on painting, Georgina von Etzorf is returning to textile design with a new direction to launch the company GVE & Co with robes in lustrous, textured Pearl Satin which for me evoke the dizzy 1920s with that era’s love of fun, glamour and exotic dressing. The Côte d’Azur luminous colours with painterly imagery, the sensuous drape of the fabric, and its promise of luxury against the skin.
Over the years I have known Georgina’s work, I have had inspiration from her paintings and designs of ‘Fritillary’, ‘ Poppy’, ‘Anemone’, ‘Auricula’, ‘Fiddlehead’ and now ‘Ranunculus’ and ‘Conversation’ for form and colour in my own garden. These fabulous robes, designed to fold effortlessly into their own silk pouches, are genuinely a timeless joy for travels and home, day and night. Quoting a loyal GVE customer, “it is without a doubt the singular most glorious piece of clothing I own. Either floating around at home or worn with a leather belt as a dress.” From its retail price of £1,100, these luxurious robes are offered exclusively to Pickett at £990 to celebrate our long association.
I have known Deborah and James at Carréducker for years, their latest Tor boots, whether you’re feeling like mountaineering or just a country walk, are incredibly comfortable and stylish made by traditional techniques in collaboration with Derbyshire boot maker William Lennon. High performance and weather resistant and, of course, coming with the Carréducker signature of a contemporary twist to a traditional boot. It makes me regret not buying a pair last year when my mind was in a cross between austerity and cleansing the clutter of objects in my life so, thinking that I already had a pair of boots (bought Christmas some 30 years ago in Poughkeepsie), I resisted, but every time I wear them I think of Deborah and James’s boots and wonder if there should have been an extravagant moment – they are so chic in a butch sort of way, coming in six divine colours and three sole choices, all lined in 100 per cent wool felt.
Carréducker and William Lennon clearly get their inspiration from the gritty, made to last (especially in the case of William Lennon – still making their First World War Army boot) approach to northern craftsmanship. Well, I am of the view that all good things come from north of the Watford Gap and look like the business, but these could work with grey flannels as well as with cut Volpe jeans. Volpe is owned by Adrian (Holdsworth) whom I go back with longer that either of us care to remember! Mr Holdsworth is such a very dapper, elegant, svelte man that it makes me feel like a vagrant every time I see him, with his sunny disposition and such charm. No wonder Volpe, his business, is such a huge success.
Jeans for me seem a disaster, so off to U(niqlo) and Z(ara) to discuss my jean dilemma. Adrian said nothing, but a pair of jeans (miraculously the perfect waist size and fit) were delivered a week later. I have been getting a lot of compliments and the cut is great for those who want stylish-not-fashion jeans – a trip to Volpe should be made. They showcase the new made-to-measure range of jeans from Volpe Sartoriale; denim from Italy and Japan, in different weights, colours, washes and finishes; styles and fits to suit everyone.
On to FEARS watches – I do wonder if I am beguiled by its very elegant proprietor, Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, who sashays in on a regular basis, always at tea-time, and enjoys a spot of gin with a splash of tonic. I don’t how we met, but he has the most beautiful watch company that was his family’s until it ceased trading in the middle of the last century. But, with style, Nicholas has brought fresh life and resurrected it. So, a new British luxury watch brand: the product is classic, clean and clear yet contemporary; the feel is back to the 1940s and those Silver Screen style icons such as David Niven and Humphry Bogart. The new Brunswick watch caught my eye: its silver, cushion-shaped case (made in the this country) has true heritage from the family archive.
Being a limited-edition watch, I will have to think fast, or it will be disappointment. Back on to must-haves in clothing, it has become part of the new winter uniform to own at least two sleeveless, tweed, cashmere or felt, sleek long jackets. They have an Austro-Indian feel, and l want one. So, September calling – I must take the plunge! I remember the Shanghai Tang shop that had those soft structured brightly lined jackets for which I had a similar yearning and failed to buy. Grrrr! Ruby is the creator of the brand Marmaduke and a great friend/housemate of my desk partner, Jenny. We had adjacent stands at the Ormiston Christmas Market. With a great range, a strong product for a classic gent with a twist. Jenny is always talking about Ruby, so I sometimes get to see the latest creations. This season the summer-toned lightweight gilet caught my eye – it makes for perfect summer evening wear for a less starchy look. I think there has to be a balance of being individual, but not allowing clothes to wear you – so often a mistake, especially when describing a ‘get-up’ as “funky” – which means the kiss of death to any styling!
The red herring? Or, which is the odd one out? Now I feel dressed up, I feel home needs attention. For home stuff it’s always a visit to BHV Paris (Bazaar Hotel de Ville) for my paints, lampshades and light-bulbs. When I am in Paris this causes amusement with fellow travellers. It is a pilgrimage and I have to go, as there is a BHV shopping list in my notes on the iPhone for topping up on essentials. The light-bulb department is the size of a tennis court, the paint a football pitch – as is the lampshade department. I pre-ordered curtains the first week of October and did the click-and-collect three weeks later. Apart from my travelling companion – aghast at this eccentric behaviour – my closest friend in Paris (who will give me a hard time on any idiosyncrasy I have) is bemused at all the bricolage purchases that arrive at his apartment: “They don’t have furniture polish in England?” or ‘That is so bazzzzic!” or a waspish “Do you need bleach or washing up liquid?” The list goes on…
Now home is looking good, it’s time to do a bit of entertaining! I was surprised one morning: a large Styrofoam box was sitting on my chair, sent by a friend who I had done a favour for. We had talked about Donald Russell and she saw an opportunity for me to sample an array of different meats. With a two-day delivery and the meat arriving deep frozen, I was able to deposit in the freezer at the office. In the box was a small cookery book, and interesting information I never knew about cooking meat to release all the right flavours. I lament the demise of so many butchers, that this might be solution, as Donald Russell depend on their service through the mail being as good as it would be over any local butcher’s counter.